It’s about 12:00pm on Sunday afternoon, and I’m so excited that I’m tweeting from the car. Fortunately, I wasn’t driving. When iPura invited me to swim for a day in a school of seafood industry hot shots at the International Boston Seafood Show, I agreed with one condition: my husband had to come along too. The only person I know who loves seafood more than I do would have had some serious words about me paddling off on my own to what can only be described as a seafood lover’s paradise. Their request was simply that I tweet and blog about the event as part of their 1st Annual iPura Tweet & Blogfest at IBSS 2011. Easy. Done. Seafood? Bring it.
You’ve probably seen these things.
But what about a Panko Pro?
Or a multivac portion sealer?
Neither have I. And while I might have a secret little fascination with machinery in the food industry (my real income comes from being an engineer), I don’t have an immediate need for a kitchen appliance of that magnitude. Instead, I focused my very short five hour window (seriously, it flew by!) on finding things that you or I would actually be able to bring home. I tasted, I talked, and I tweeted. So much that I might have broken a personal record with one of those activities – I’ll let you guess which it was.
One of our first stops was with Fruits de Mer, a purveyor of fine marinated seafood. These folks have won several European Great Tastes Awards for their marinated anchovies and seafood salads, and they’d win my personal Oscar too.
If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like anchovies but has also actually tried them, it’s probably because they were too salty, or worse, hairy. If you’ve never tried an anchovy and are now even less likely because I said they might be hairy, then get to your nearest Whole Foods and buy these ones. Because I promise you (and so does my husband) they are not hairy, overly salty, or any other strange thing your neighbor’s cousin’s best friend told you about anchovies.
Like all of their other products, they are brimming with fresh seafood flavor finished with fresh herbs and fruity olive oil. Trust me, these are all things you want if you’re buried under three feet of snow and would rather pretend you’re on a roof top with a glass of sauvignon blanc in hand, the sun above, and the Mediterranean Sea sprawled out in front of you.
If you’re heading there soon, you have my sincere jealousy. But if you’re stuck here with a job and a couple
commitments hobbies and maybe a dog and a kid, you probably care about seafood that’s fast, flavorful, and healthy. That’s why it’s good to have companies like Wholey Seafood and Marina del Rey. They produce frozen portions of seafood in flavorful sauces that are so easy to prepare, you can start putting that kid, or husband, or dog to use for making dinner. (It’s nice to dream.)
Wholey Seafood has a large range of products, that might look something like this in a grocery store:
We sampled their Lime Cilantro Sweet Chili Shrimp. You might think (I did) that a lot of frozen prepared foods suffer from overall lack of quality and flavor, but not this stuff. The shrimp was sweet and tender and sauce had a big bold kick. I’ll also confess that my “I can do it healthier and cheaper myself” attitude usually prevents me from buying pre-marinated products, but here’s one I’m sure I couldn’t beat on my own.
Similarly, Marina del Rey’s Orange and Mango Tilapia was a moist and tender filet bursting with fruity flavor. What’s it missing? Weird ingredients and extra calories. Things I don’t care much for anyway. In addition to changing my mindset about buying pre-marinated frozen fish, I might also have to re-think where I buy my fish. This product will debut next month in Sam’s Club (perfect for me!) but for now you can find it in Walgreens.
Another notion I stick to pretty strongly is that any sort of “fritter” tastes mostly like fried breading and not like whatever fancy fish, meat, or vegetable supposedly went into it. That’s not the case with Maristella’s seafood arancini.
They come in varieties like Wild Caught Blue Crab with Gorgonzola and Bacon and Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon with White Wine and Capers that honestly taste just as good as they sound. I always seem to find myself struggling to figure out that one last hors d’oeuvre to serve when people are coming over, and these would be perfect.
There was plenty of fresh seafood, too. Some of it took me straight back to my vacation in Greece. Everywhere we went, it seemed that sea breem, a small white fish known for its tender meat and tasty skin, was the nightly special. Not too surprising, since those characteristics lend well to being grilled up whole with a touch a olive and lemon juice, one of the most popular ways to eat seafood in the Mediterranean. At the show, Chopped champion Ric Orlando was cooking up sea breem from Local Ocean in three completely different ways.
Sea breem, also known as Dorado, was served as a raw Italian crudo, a citrusy ceviche, and a hearty slider. It would be hard to pick a favorite, but the crudo really showcased the delicious, fresh flavor.
Lucky for me, I have the recipes in hand, and this fresh, sustainable, environmentally-friendly fish is going to be on sale in my local Price Chopper next week.
Another surprise that brought me back to Greece? Octopus! It’s not too hot on the American consumer market just yet, but mark my word: if Puerto Madero can get their octupus carpaccio and burgers into our stores, those tentacles would grab on tightly.
The carpaccio is just like carpaccio should be: tender, delicate, and light. Not at all “chewy” like you might imagine octopus to be. The burgers are flavorful and healthy, and would make a nice alternative to the usual salmon ones in our rotation. They’re not available just yet, but like many of the other Mexican seafood distributors, this company is committed to the highest in value and quality, so be sure to keep them in mind.
What would a seafood fest be without sushi?
A seafood snooze, obviously. There seemed to be table after table displaying all of sushi’s fine friends: nori, roe, pickled ginger, salmon salad, and more. Japan was present, indeed. But one product we got a pleasant surprise out of was this:
If you think that’s a bag of frozen maki, you’re right. If you’re thinking “heck no”, you’re wrong. This sushi is as good as your better-quality supermarket sushi, and has a 12-month shelf life. Not that I’d expect it to last nearly that long in my freezer. This could just be the ultimate mid-night snack.
One company I was particularly excited to meet up with was Australis, otherwise known as The Better Fish. We first got in touch a few months ago on Twitter, and upon learning about their sustainable, environmentally-friendly barramundi, I was intrigued. What’s so great about barramundi? They swear it’s a heck of a lot like sea bass, one of those big “no no” fish we all hear about. I’ve never bought sea bass it due it’s high price point and highly overfished status, but I’ll confess to eating it in restaurants – and really, really loving it.
My excitement about trying barramundi was right on. Like sea bass, it’s a thicker filet with a meaty texture that would be wonderful with a bold marinade on the grill or pan-roasted in a flavorful sauce. Note that if you have a Stop and Shop nearby, this product is carried under Stop and Shop’s brand name; otherwise, there are plenty of other places to buy it too.
Once you’ve made a good choice and brought home some healthy, sustainable seafood, do you know what you’re going to do with it? Despite this big blog, I usually don’t. That’s why I was really excited to visit the booth for Ashman Manufacturing. We had exchanged tweets a few times, and a few products on their website really caught my eye.
You know what else caught my eye? The short of list of ingredients, which were all things I could read without a PhD in processed foods. (I’m really glad not to have one of those.) As I alluded to earlier, I’m hesitant to buy pre-made foods if I could do it cheaper and healthier from scractch, but these sauces and spices leave little room for improvement, in recipe or taste. In addition to the citrus wasabi sauce which was so good I tweeted about it, the Bombay Seafood Blast spice rub was a huge winner, with its gorgeous blend of sweet and warm, earthy spices.
Finally, I have to thank iPura and Jason for this awesome opportunity to attend the Boston Seafood Show and to share it with all of you. Here I am with Jason and Fiona, a fellow blogger and author of A Boston Food Diary.
Did you know that Jason believes in the power of food bloggers, and that he really really loves Boston food bloggers? Technically I’m a Worcester food blogger (about an hour west) and I really appreciate that he thought to include me. Thank you, Jason, and I hope we can work on more events like this together!
I lied. There’s one more thing. No foodie fest would be complete without a little something sweet, and I was totally craving it after all that seafood. As if this show wasn’t epic enough, there’s was an entire other show going on right next door, the New England Food Show. If I only I had more time, and more room in my stomach, this would have doubled my fun. But I had about five minutes, and couldn’t have been more pleased that this was the third booth inside.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the Boston Seafood Show *almost* as much as I did attending (a girl can dream big, right?) Be sure to stop back tomorrow for a very special Blogiversary post!